On June 27/July 10, the Church celebrates the 1998 Uncovering of the Relics of the Optina Elders Leo, Macarius, Hilarion, Ambrose, Anatoly (Zertsalov), Barsanuphius, and Anatoly (Potapov). The Optina Monastery website tells the interesting story of how the relics were uncovered and identified.—Trans.
Video: Celebrations in the Optina Hermitage, October 22-23, 1998:
On October 21, 1998, His Holiness Patriarch Alexei II of Moscow and All Russia arrived at the monastery to consecrate the church on the feast of St. Ambrose of Optina, October 23, and transfer the holy relics of the venerable Optina Elders to the reliquaries prepared for this purpose. Many guests and pilgrims came to Optina for this solemn event. His Holiness was greeted by the abbot and brethren, as well as representatives of the provincial and city administrations and other guests.
At the greeting of the Patriarch in the Entrance of the Theotokos Cathedral, the cross was brought out so His Holiness could bless the brethren and pilgrims.
All-Night Vigil in the Entrance of the Theotokos Cathedral for the feast of St. Ambrose of Optina. Following the service, the Patriarch addressed the brethren and many pilgrims with a word of congratulations on such a significant day for Optina.
Before the beginning of the first Divine Liturgy in the new church, the holy relics chosen to be placed under the consecrated altar—those of the Martyrs Probus, Tarachus, and Andronicus, who are celebrated together on October 25, the same day as the Kaluga Icon of the Mother of God—were carried out in a cross procession. With the blessing of His Holiness, the holy relics of the seven Optina Elders were transferred from the Entrance of the Theotokos Cathedral, where they had been since the day of their uncovering (July 10), to the new Church of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God at the same time.
Many pilgrims gathered at Optina on this solemn and significant day. With great reverence, the clerics from among the brethren and the visiting clergy transferred the honorable relics of the Optina Elders to the oak reliquaries prepared especially for them, to put them in the new church in new granite reliquaries, decorated with artistic carvings and icons.
After the Divine Liturgy, a moleben to the Synaxis of the Optina Elders with the blessing of waters was served.
In memory of such a joyful event for the Optina Hermitage, His Holiness the Patriarch presented the monastery a Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God. The icon was placed in the narthex of the newly consecrated church, at the spot used for serving various prayer services for the needs of the pilgrims.
On the solea we see the reliquary with the relics of St. Joseph, and below and to the left are two granite reliquaries with the holy relics of St. Barsanuphius (under the canopy) and St. Anatoly (Potapov) (in the foreground).
The two-thousandth year from the Nativity of Christ was marked by a joyful event for the Optina Hermitage. Having examined the testimonies of miracles, the widespread popular veneration in the dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church of the venerable Optina Elders, canonized as locally venerated saints in 1996, the Jubilee Bishops’ Council
To glorify as Church-wide saints the venerable Optina Elders: Hieroschemamonk Leo (Nagolkin; 1768-1841), Hieroschemamonk Macarius (Ivanov; 1788-1860), Schema-Archimandrite Moses (Putilov; 1782-1862), Schema-Igumen Anthony (Putilov; 1795-1865), Hieroschemamonk Hilarion (Ponomarev; 1805-1873), Hieroschemamonk Anatoly I (Zertsalov; 1824-1894), Schema-Archimandrite Isaac I (Antimonov; 1810-1894), Hieroschemamonk Joseph (Litovkin; 1837-1911), Schema-Archimandrite Barsanuphius (Plikhankov; 1845-1913), Hieroschemamonk Anatoly II (Potapov; 1855-1922), Hieroschemamonk Nectarius (Tikhonov; 1853-1928); Hieromonk Nikon (Belyaev; 1888-1931) as a Venerable Confessor, and Archimandrite Isaac II (Bobrokov; 1865-1938) as a Venerable Martyr.
The honorable remains are considered relics.”